Curried Vegetables

Curries are tongue-tantalizers. Here is a simple recipe for a vegetable curry, along with information about the background of commercial curry powders. This is the third post in my Indian series; it accompanies Tandoori Chicken and the cooling condiment Dahi Raita. My next post for egg rice will complete this series.

In her book, Eight Flavors, The Untold Story of American Cuisine, Sarah Lohman lists curry powder as one of America’s eight leading flavors that distinguish American cuisine. Before looking at this, let us first define this spice blend.

The Make-up of Currry Powder

Curry has a yellow hue due to its main ingredient turmeric, which makes up 25-50% of these blends by weight (for properties of turmeric see African Bobotie). Coriander and cumin are its other primary ingredients.1

You will also typically find red or black pepper, mustard, ginger, clove, cardamom, bay leaf and fenugreek in its makeup of spices and herbs; there can be up to twenty ingredients. No two curry blends are ever the same; thus, when you find a label you really like, it is best to stay with it. 2

Curry Powder Not Found in Indian Cooking

Important to note: the word curry in Indian cooking refers to the dish itself: meat, vegetables, and a sauce, but not the spice blend-what we westerners know as “curry”. Rather in Indian cuisine, we find such popular spice blends as garam masala from north India and Sambar podi from south India. There the resultant dishes that incorporate these and other spice blends are are referred to as curry, rather than the spice blends themselves. 3

Garam Masala and Sambar Podi

Garam means “warming” and masala means “a blend of aromatic spices”, and this is the basis for our “mild” or “sweet” curry found in the West. It, however, differs from our western curry powder, with curry tending to be even milder in flavor than garam masala. This is due to curry’s abundance of turmeric, which adds color, but very little favor, and that which is there is flowery. Our curry powder is also rich in cumin, coriander, and fenugreek, all of which lend to the mildness of its flavor. 4

The Indian spice blend garam masala, which varies from region to region, is more pungent and sweeter due to its ingredients: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and mace. As with curry powder, garam masala also has some cumin and coriander in its blend, but these other “sweet” spices make it different from our curry blend. 5

Another spice mix from south India, Sambar podi, is the source of our hot or “madras” curry powders, and it differs from garam masala in that it has a good quantity of chili peppers amongst its other spices, such as turmeric. 6

The blended powder, curry, we find on the western market is not a staple in Indian cooking, as is believed in the West. Rather curry powder was created in the UK, as a shortcut for evoking the essence of Indian cuisine. True Indian cooking requires endless chopping and grinding. The brands of curry that we buy here in the U.S. are often marked “mild” or “hot” (madras). This varies with the type of pepper used-cayenne, or red pepper, rather than black, allows for the heat. 7

The Assumed Etymology of Curry Powder

In her book Classic Indian Cooking, Julie Sahni explains the term curry powder is not as old as the spice blends it describes; some of which are the southern Asian dishes below, which utilize the curry plant and curry leaf. Sahni projects that the word curry probably came from the Sanskrit word kari. Sahni states that kari refers to this curry leaf found in Indian cooking. She explains that in India the sauces made from kari leaves and other spices were called kari podi; Her hypothesis is that this term made a linguistic jump in English to “curry powder”. 8 (For more common foods using Sanskrit names, see Laban bil bayd and West African Bobotie.)

The Curry Plant and Curry Leaf

The curry plant and curry leaf are not found in western curry powders, but they are used in Indian curry dishes. The curry plant is a Mediterranean member of the lettuce family, Helichrysum italicum, which has a flavor reminiscent of curry. A number of its terpenes give it a vaguely spicy, pleasant aroma. It is used in Indian egg dishes, teas, and sweets. 9 (For more on the flavor family of terpenes, see Sage Turkey Delight.)

There is a curry leaf used in cooking in this part of the world as well; it is the leaf of a small tree Murraya koenigii, which is in the citrus family and is a native of southern Asia. Households in south India and Malaysia grow this tree and add its leaf to many dishes, but its flavor-in spite of its name-does not resemble what we consider as curry. Rather, it is mild and subtle, with woody fresh notes. The curry leaf is found in stews and simmered dishes, and it also is used to flavor cooking oil. 10

Curry Powder-How It Became a Leading Flavor in American Cuisine

In Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine, Sarah Lohman traced the advent of curry powder as a major part of American cuisine, as coming through our Anglo roots.

England had been trading with India since the 1600’s, and the British made India an official colony in 1858. Queen Victoria was crowned Empress of India, in 1877. England’s love for Indian food came through the British soldiers, merchants, and government officials, who wrote home about its grandeur. When these sojourners returned to England, in some cases they brought back their Indian cooks; in other cases they hired English cooks, who were trained in India. In England, Indian cuisine had become so popular that it was found in English coffeehouses by the mid-eighteenth century, making it available to everyone. The nation became very familiar with Indian cuisine, and simply loved all things Indian! 11

Loman states that because of the English, curry powder have been used in America for over two hundred years-long before the first Indian immigrants arrived. The love for curry first came to our American shores with the English colonists; they had brought with them the popular English cookbook: The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple, 1747, by Hannah Glasse. It contained a basic recipe for the simple, Anglo-Indian curry; its instructions simply stated to stew a chicken with finely ground turmeric, black pepper, and ginger, blended in a cream sauce. 12

Curry Recipes Became Common in 19th Century American Cook Books

In the century following this, numerous American cookbooks boasted of curry recipes, indicating its wide spread popularity here. I will mention but a few. Mary Randolph wrote The Virginia Housewife, 1824, which was the first American cook book with curry recipes. Her book boasted of six curry receipts (indicating the widespread use of curry here), and one of these was for curry powder itself. Her version of this spice blend was flavorful and hot, probably stemming from the south Indian Sambar podi, though Randolph was most likely not conscious of this. 13

Mrs. Child published the receipt “To Curry Fowl” in The American Frugal Housewife, which had 33 editions, beginning in 1829. My facsimile is of the twelfth edition dated 1833; here her unique curry calls for a spoonful of lemon juice and an optional spoonful of tomato catsup. 14

Published in 1885, in Portland, Oregon, The Webfoot Cook Book has two curry recipes. One calls for: a half a pound of butter, two onions, a gill of rich gravy, and a heaping tablespoon of curry powder, to which meat of any kind is added. Sounds pretty rich, but we must recall that 19th century Oregonians were far more physically active, than we are now. 15

Celebrity Chef Ranji Smile-the Reason America Fell in Love with Indian Food

Loman points out that the trend for an authentic Indian experience in the area of food was minimal in the U.S., until America’s first celebrity-chef Ranji Smile arrived in 1899. He had already made a name for himself in London, where “all things Indian” was extremely popular. At the turn of the century, America’s first Indian chef, Smile and his food from India immediately became the craze in New York. This “following after the English” came through Smile’s creative, exotic dishes, at America’s well-known Sherry’s. 16

Louis Sherry had opened the New York restaurant, named after himself, in 1890. Its elegance made it a rival of the popular Delmmonico’s. 17 Nine years later while eating at Cecil’s in London, Sherry encountered Smile’s exciting curries, and hired him on the spot. Smile’s beautiful Indian cuisine was transported to America, where it became the rage!

Perhaps it, however, is best to say that there was a mixed success in Smile’s attempt at having Indian food take over our nation, in the manner it had in England. Nevertheless, there was a growing number of Indian restaurants, as well as Indian recipes in American cook books, in the early 20th century. As the number of Indian restaurants in New York grew, Fannie Farmer’s 1921 cookbook came forth with twenty recipes, which used curry powder! 19

Curry, A Leading Flavor in America Today

Now in the 21st century, there are around two million Indian immigrants in the U.S.A., with nearly three hundred million Americans claiming Asian Indian ethnicity. According to Loman, this is the third largest immigrant group next to Mexico and China. As noted, the English colonists introduced curry in America-long before these immigrants started arriving. Then 100 years later, Smile made it trendy at the turn of the 20th century. 20 And now, as Loman declares, it is indeed one of eight flavors that make up American cuisine, though it is not well known as such.

My First Taste of Curry in Blackpool, England

My first experience with a curry dinner was in Blackpool, England in 1974, while I was a student in London. During this time, friends of friend of my family invited me to their home in Blackpool, where we celebrated with a fancy, British, curry dinner-a first for me.

I remember it being dense in flavors, which exploded in my mouth. After scooping out a heap of curried meat and vegetables on my plate, I was instructed to top this with a wide array of condiments-from shredded coconut to raisins, from grounded peanuts to chopped tomatoes…and oh so much more. Needless to say, I was thrilled by this experience of my first encounter with curry, which left a lasting impression!

Lesson Applied

When looking back, we see how our “firsts” in life leave indelible impressions. Therefore it is important that we respond appropriately to new foods and experiences in life.

It is said that we must keep our hearts with all diligence, for out of them come the issues of life. Doing so requires being alert, sober, and vigilant, protecting our hearts; this indeed dictates much about the quality of our lives.

Several years ago I had a most daring challenge, with regards to my walking this out with new foods. I had been asked to be a judge at the re-enactment of a Mountain Men’s Rendezvous, at the historic site of Fort Vancouver, in the state of Washington.

I and the other judges made our way through the “living-history” camp, tasting the delicacies these mountain men had made; we were to choose the dish that was the most authentically prepared., while being the most unique.

With vivid imagination, I recall eating rattlesnake and pemmican. After the initial shock, I found the rattle snack tasting rather pleasantly like chicken; the pemmican on the other hand was pure animal fat, with a little bit of meat and dried berries ground into it-aaugh!

There was laughter and joy amongst this stepping out in faith, to experience the unknown; we bonded together as brave souls.

May you enjoy the simplicity and wonderful flavor, of the recipe below for curried vegetables.

References

  1. https://www.thespruceeats.com/curry-powder-and-indian-food-1957468
  2. https://www.thespruceeats.com/curry-powder-1328534#curry-powders-ingredients
  3. Sarah Loman, Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), pp.89, 90.
  4. https://www.the spruceeats.com/curry-powder-and-indian-food-1957468
  5. Ibid.
  6. Sarah Loman, Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), p.90.
  7. https//www.thespruceeats.com/curry-powder-1328534#curry-powders-ingredients
  8. Sarah Loman, Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), p.90.
  9. Harold McGee, On Food and History (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 409.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Sarah Lohman, Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), p. 94.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Facsimile of Mrs. Childs, The American Frugal Housewife (Boston: Carter, Hendee, and Co., 1832), pp. 84, 85.
  15. Facsimile of First Presbyterian Church, The Webfoot Cook Book (Portland, Oregon, 1885), p. 173.
  16. Sarah Loman, Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), pp. 94-98.
  17. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Owl Books, 1995), p. 335.
  18. Sarah Loman, Eight Flavors, the Untold Story of American Cuisine (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), pp. 94-111.
  19. Ibid., pp. 111, 112.
  20. Ibid., p. 88.

Curried Vegetables Recipe

Yields: 8 servings.  Active prep time: 35-45 min.  Note: this makes a medium-hot curry; may add more spices as desired. This may be done ahead of time and reheated.

6 1/2 tsp oil  (Either avocado or coconut oil is best here for health benefits; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1 med yellow onion

1 lb carrots  (The one-pound bag of organic, peeled, mini carrots, from Trader Joe’s are easiest, as they require no prep time.)

1 1/2 lb fresh green beans, cut in two-inch pieces  (May use a 24 oz bag of frozen French green beans, from Trader Joe’s.)

1 lb zucchini, cut in two-inch strips

1 bell pepper, cut in two-inch strips  (Organic is important, as bell peppers readily absorb pesticides.)

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp dried, ground ginger  (Trader Joe’s carries a great ground ginger, which is so reasonably priced at $1.99.)

1/2 tsp ground cumin  (Trader’s has the best price on this-$1.99 a jar, the same as with most of their other spices.)

1/2 tsp turmeric  (This too is available at Trader’s for their great price.)

Scant 1/4 tsp red, cayenne pepper  (Trader’s carries this inexpensively as well.)

1 tsp crushed, dried red pepper

1 tsp salt

6-7 lg cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine  (May substitute 3 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s, for easy prep.)

  1. If using frozen beans, take out of freezer and open bag (or better yet, thaw in refrigerator overnight, for quicker cooking).
  2. Spray vegetables with an inexpensive, effective vegetable spray (mix 97% and 3% hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle) and let stand for three minutes; rinse well.
  3. Cut onion in even 1/8” slices; heat 1/2 tsp oil in a large frying pan, over medium heat-when a small piece of onion sizzles in oil, add the rest of the onions.  Stir onions well, to distribute the oil.  Turn heat down to med/low and caramelize onions, by stirring every several minutes, until color starts to form; then, stir every minute or so, until dark brown.  Meanwhile proceed with the next steps, watching onions carefully.
  4. Heat last 2 tbsp oil in a large sauté pan; when a piece of carrot sizzles in it, add the rest of the carrots, and cook uncovered over medium heat.
  5. If using fresh beans, cut them in 2” pieces (see photo below).  Add to carrots-which have been cooking, for at least 3-4 minutes while you are preparing beans.  If using frozen beans, be sure to wait the 3-4 minutes, before adding the beans to the carrots.
  6. Cover the pan, if using fresh beans, but if using frozen beans keep the pan uncovered.  Stir occasionally.
  7. Chop the zucchini in 2” pieces, set aside.
  8. Cut bell pepper in 2” strips, being sure to de-seed the pepper first.  For easy chopping, cut the halved pepper-with skin side flat on counter-in narrow strips, by cutting at a diagonal, alternating sides (see photo).
  9. Add these to the pan of carrots and beans..  Cook until vegetables reach desired tenderness.
  10. Meanwhile chop the garlic, set aside.
  11. Mix well the spices and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
  12. When vegetables are done, add spices, distributing evenly throughout vegies; then, mix in the garlic.  Cook until the aroma of the garlic rises from pan, or until frozen garlic cubes are thawed and mixed in.  (See more about cooking with garlic at Tomato/Feta Chicken .)
  13. Adjust seasonings and serve with Tandoori Chicken and Dahi Raita, as a cooling condiment.

Dahi Raita-a Indian cooling condiment for hot curries

The history of yogurt, its health benefits, and the definition of its various kinds are given below; this is followed by a delightful Indian recipe, Dahi Raita, a yogurt-cooling-condiment for hot curries.

The Advent of Yogurt

In early history, with the domestication of animals, useful ways of preserving milk surfaced, which made it a surplus to people’s immediate requirements.  This was found in the making, by fermentation, of either fine or coarse curds.  These coarser curds, after straining, became the first soft, fresh cheese; the finer curds developed into what is today the yogurt of the Balkans, the taetta of Scandinavia, and the dahi of India-the subject of today’s entry.  1

In the West, we are familiar with fresh fermented milks-yogurt and its relatives soured cream and buttermilk.  These are native to a broad and climatically warm area of the Middle East and central and southwest Asia, of which India is a part-from which the ethnicity of this present series of receipts is derived.  (See: Tandori Chicken.) It is believed that this area in Asia and the Middle East includes the probable home of dairying, and where still today some people store milk in animal stomachs and skins.  2

The word yogurt is Turkish, meaning milk that has fermented into a tart, semisolid mass; it is derived from a root meaning “thick”.  It is known by various names and used in various ways, having been made for millennia from eastern Europe and North Africa across central Asia to India.  3

How Yogurt Grows

The thermophilic, or heat-loving species, lactobacilli and streptococci produce yogurt, when these rapidly and synergistically grow at temperatures up to 113 degrees F, or 45 degrees C, producing high levels of preservative lactic acid.  They can set milk into a tart, firm substance in just a few hours.  These two species may have come from the cattle themselves.  4

Health Benefits of Yogurt First Discovered in Early 20th Century

Yogurt remained an exotic curiosity in Europe until the early 1920s. At this time, Nobel Prize-winning immunologist Ilya Metchinikov (who had discovered that white blood cells fight bacterial infection) recognized the health benefits of yogurt.  He connected the longevity of certain isolated groups, within Bulgaria, Russia, France, and the United States, with their consumption of fermented milks.  He theorized that these would acidify the digestive tract and prevent pathogenic bacteria from growing.  In other words, he proposed that the lactic acid bacteria in fermented milks eliminate toxic microbes in our digestive system that otherwise shorten our lives.  This confirmed the ancient and widespread belief that yogurt and other fermented milks do more than just predigest lactose and create flavor, but rather they promote good health.  5

Yogurt is beneficial to health in numerous ways, though it is not for the lactose-intolerant and those allergic to milk.  Some of these proposed benefits are it is rich in important nutrients, such as: calcium, B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin D.  Likewise, it is high in protein, which benefits appetite and weight control.  6 

Varieties containing probiotics, or live bacteria, may increase digestive health by reducing bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.  These yogurts, with their probiotics and minerals-especially magnesium, selenium, and zinc-may also strengthen your immune system and therefore prevent certain sicknesses, such as viral infections and gut disorders. 7 

High-Fat Yogurt is Best for Health

It is also held that yogurt may reduce the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. And finally, it may promote weight management due to its high fat and protein.  Note: full-fat dairy products are now regarded by some to reduce the incidence of obesity, contrary to previous popular beliefs concerning fat intake and weight gain.  8

MedicalNewsToday agrees with all the above health benefits of yogurt, and it also states it may help protect against type 2 diabetes.  9  It also state that high-fat dairy products are much healthier than low-fat dairy ones, as these latter may contribute to the risk of Parkinson’s disease (see https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317834#Skim,-low-fat-milk-linked-to-higher-Parkinsons-risk).

Also, there is observational evidence that does not support the hypothesis that high-fat dairy products contribute to obesity or cardiometabolic risk, but rather suggests that high-fat dairy consumption within typical dietary patterns is inversely associated with obesity risk.  10

Modern Refrigerators Brought Popularity of Yogurt

By the late 1920s, factory-scale production and milder yogurts with fruit were developed.  The 1960s, however, brought broader popularity with Swiss improvements in the inclusion of flavors and fruits; there was also the French development of a stable, creamy, stirred version at this time.  11

In Consider the Fork, Bee Wilson draws the parallel between diversified, modern refrigerators (featuring lots of compartments and multi-level shelving) and this advent of yogurt growing into a multi-billion-dollar industry in the West.  This began first in the United States.  She proposes that housewives were needing something attractive, like the neat little plastic yogurt pots, to put in their new fridges.  12 

Before World War II, yogurt had zero potential commercially in the West, but rather it was a traditional food of the Middle East and India, where it was made fresh as needed and kept in a cool place.  Wilson says that refrigerators were originally devices for helping us stay safe, but from the 1950s on, especially in America, they became insatiable boxes, which themselves demanded to be fed, with all their fancy features.  13.

She goes on to point out that the wide-spread dairy dessert of homemade milk puddings, such as rice pudding and tapioca, faded away at this time, to be replaced by the ever-growing popularity of these pretty, little, commercial yogurt containers.  14

Lesson Applied

Food can be medicine for us, as we see in the case of yogurt, where it is believed that the lactic acid bacteria, found in it, eliminates the toxic microbes in our digestive system, thus promoting good health.  We, however, not only eat it for its physical health benefits, but also because it pleases the palate.

 Likewise, the word of God is our medicine.  It promises this, in Proverbs 4: 20-22, KJV, where the original Hebrew word for health actually means medicine.

“My son (daughter), attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.  Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.  For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.”

God’s word tells us that like a medicine, the word cuts asunder between soul and spirit, destroying all corruption therein.  It changes us from the inside out, for it is our gos-pill.

All that is required of us is to attend to the word-fix our attention on it-by reading, pondering, meditating, muttering, hearing, musing it.  This fixes this powerful medicine in our hearts, which then eliminates destructive forces; these may be present perhaps due to our ignorance.  Indeed, the word is forever quieting and calming us with its perfect truths; thus, it pleases the palates of our souls. 

Enjoy this great cooling condiment for curries, dahi raita, by preparing the simple recipe below.

References:

  1. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), pp. 27, 28, 29.
  2. Ibid., pp. 46, 47.
  3. Ibid., pp. 47,48.
  4. Ibid., pp. 45, 47.
  5. Ibid., 47, 48.
  6. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-benefits-of-yogurt#TOC_TITLE_HDR_7
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295714
  10. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-012-0418-1
  11. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scriber, 1984, 2004), p 48.
  12. Bea Wilson, Consider the Fork (Philadelphia: Basic Books, 2012), pp. 241-244.
  13. Ibid., p. 244.
  14. Ibid.

Dahi Raita  Yields about 3 cups.  Active prep time: 25 min/  cooking time: 20-30 min/  cooling time for potato: 30 min or overnight.

This is one of my 1980’s recipes; I don’t recall its origin.  Its best to assemble this the day of serving, as the tomatoes/cucumbers make it somewhat runny if left overnight.  (You may boil the potato a day ahead.)

1 small/med Yukon or red potato, cut in halves or thirds and boiled in salted water

1 c plain yogurt  (I like Sierra Nevada, Grass-fed, Whole Milk Yogurt, which is exceptionally thick, rich, and healthy; Greek yogurt is another option.)

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive, fine-grind, Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.)

1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and diced small

1 tomato, deseeded and diced small  (It’s not necessary to peel the tomato.)

  1. Measure yogurt in a bowl; mix in coriander, salt, and pepper.
  2. Cut the potato in halves or thirds. Place it in boiling water and cook it until soft, but firm-not so much that it will fall apart.  Discard the water and cool.  (May do this the day before.)
  3. When ready to serve, peel skin off potato and dice in 3/4” pieces. Add to yogurt, making sure small pieces are completely cool first. 
    DSCF1207
  4. Peel cucumber, cut in half, and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Dice in 3/4” pieces and add to the yogurt.  See above photo.
  5. Cut the tomato in half, scoop out the seeds, and chop in small pieces, by placing the side with peel flat on counter-this makes cutting tomatoes easier. 
  6. Add this to the yogurt, stirring all together; adjust seasonings (see photo below).
  7. This is a great cooling condiment for Indian food!

Legal Peanut Butter Pie

legal peanut butter pie

A recipe for the best of legal, peanut butter pies follows; it’s accompanied with information on the make-up of peanuts, their various uses throughout the world, and why they cause allergic reactions, in some people.

Peanuts Are Seeds

The peanut is not a nut, but rather the seed of Arachis hypogaea, a small bush that is a legume, which pushes its woody fruit capsules underground as they mature.  1

The Background of Peanuts

Around 2000 B.C., this seed was domesticated in South America; this took place probably in Brazil.  Then, the peanut became an important crop to the Peruvians, prior to the beginnings of the Inca empire, in the early 1400’s.  In the 16th century, the Portuguese took it to Africa, India, and Asia.  Quickly, it was being used as a major source of cooking oil in China, because of its high oil content (the composition of peanuts is 48% oil, 26% protein, 19% carbohydrates, and 6% water).  2

America lagged behind, however, in adopting the peanut as anything other than animal feed, until the 19th century; then, in the early 20th century it became a major crop in the South, when agricultural scientist George Washington Carver encouraged farmers to replace weevil-ravaged cotton with peanuts.  Today, the United States is the third largest peanut producer in the world-though we’re a distant third to India and China.  3

Various Ways Peanuts Are Employed in Cooking

Peanuts are consumed mostly as oil and meal in Asia, while in the U.S., they are eaten as food.  In their pureed form, they have found their way into several Asian and African traditions, lending richness, substance, and flavor to sauces and soups.  These pureed peanuts, as well as whole ones, are used in Thai and Chinese noodle dishes and sweet bun fillings.  Indonesian dipping sauces and sambal condiments employ these, and in West African nations, they are used in cakes, confections, stews and soups.  (For a great Indonesian condiment, see Serengdung Kacang-a delicious peanut/coconut-chip mixture, which can creatively be used as an hors d’ouvres or on top of salads.  4

Along with these other countries, peanut soups are popular in the American South.  Both the southern United States and Asia use peanuts boiled in saltwater, as a popular snack.  When boiled in its shell, this nut develops a potato-like aroma, with sweet vanilla highlights due to the liberation of vanillin from the shell.  5

Compounds Contributing to Peanut Flavor

Roasted peanuts have several hundred volatile compounds; the raw peanut has a green, bean-like flavor, which comes mainly from the compounds green-leaf hexanal and the pyrazine that characterizes peas.  A composite of several sulfur compounds make-up the roasted aroma; these consist of numerous “nutty” pyrazines and others (some of which have fruity, flowery, fried, and smoky characters).  When staling takes place during storage, these nutty pyrazines, however, disappear, and painty, cardboard notes increase.  (For related information on chemical compounds and their aromas, as found in herbs and spices, see Sage Turkey Delight.)

There are four varieties of peanuts grown in the United States for different purposes.  The large Virginia and small Valencia are used for nuts sold in the shell, while the Virginia and small Spanish are found in mixed nuts and candies.  Finally, the Runner is produced for use in baked goods and peanut butter.  7

Peanuts as a Food Allergy

Bbc.com wrote that the frequency of food allergies-especially in industrialized countries-has increased over the past 30 years; it reported a five-fold increase in peanut allergies between 1995 and 2016 in the UK.  It proposed that this increase in allergies is probably environmental and related to Western lifestyles.  8

A true food allergy is the body’s immune system mistaking a food component (in this case proteins in peanuts), as a sign of invasion by bacterium or virus; it then reacts by initiating a defense-the release of histamines-which causes the allergic reaction.  Such overreactions may cause mild damage, such as manifestations of discomfort, itching or rash, or severe reactions bringing life-threatening asthma or change in blood pressure or heart rhythm.  9

Peanuts are one of the most typical food allergens; these allergic reactions are the most common cause of fatal food-induced anaphylaxis, with adolescents with asthma being the highest-risk group.  Thus, it is important to check with your doctor, before eating the following recipe, or any other foods made with peanuts.  10

Applying This Peanut Lesson

When still, we are guided into that which is most beneficial for our beings.  When hurried we are prone to mistakes, such as eating, by accident, a food that causes adverse reactions in our body-makeup.

Slowing down is imperative to hearing our given needs, which are unique.  Each of us must hear for ourselves what to eat nutritionally.  Likewise, we must accept inner guidance concerning all other aspects of living, so we consume only that which is true and pure.

We need to be at peace in order to attain such promise.  The Spirit encourages us: when he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?  11

Gently and mildly-Webster’s definition for meekness-we receive God’s provision of tranquility, so we can know what to put in our mouths and souls, from moment to moment.  As we apply this precept, it amplifies itself as increased health, in both the physical and spiritual realms, for they play off of each other.

Enjoy this powerful dessert, by following the recipe below!

References:

  1. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p.510.
  2. , pp. 502, 510.
  3. , p. 510.
  4. , p. 510.
  5. , p. 510.
  6. , p. 511.
  7. , p. 511.
  8. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-46302780
  9. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p.455.
  10. https://www.thermofisher.com/diagnostic-education/patient/us/en/allergy-types/food-allergies/peanut-allergy.html
  11. King James Bible, Job: 34: 29.

finished product

Legal Peanut Butter Pie  Yields: 1-10” gluten-free pie, or 10 servings.  Active prep time: 1hr/  inactive prep time for chilling: 3 hr.  Note: may freeze, to have on hand for company.

Crust

1 c almond flour

1/3 c peanut powder  (Trader Joe’s has an excellent price for this-$4.99/8 oz.)

1/2 c Monkfruit sweetener  (See Healthy Date/Apricot Bars, for information on the health benefits of Monkfruit.)

1/4 tsp salt

6 tbsp of butter, melted

Spray oil

Ganache

3/4 c heavy whipping cream  (An organic one can be found at Trader Joe’s for $3.49/pt.)

1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips  (Such are high quality and inexpensive at Trader’s.)

1/2 oz of unsweetened Baker’s chocolate, for optional decoration

Filling

1 c plus 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream

8 oz cream cheese, softened

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 c Monkfruit sweetener

1 c creamy peanut butter, at room temperature

  1. moist pie crust dough

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chill a med/large bowl and beaters for an electric mixer in the freezer.

  2. Melt 6 tbsp of butter in a small saucepan over med/low heat.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients for the crust in a medium bowl with a fork.
  4. pie crust formed in pan

    Add melted butter; blend with a spatula, until all dry ingredients are incorporated (mixture will be moist-see photo).

  5. Spray a 10” pie plate, preferably with coconut oil spray. With the spatula, spread the dough evenly over bottom of pan; then with fingers, pat mixture firmly into place on bottom and up sides of pie plate.  See photo.
  6. baked pie crust

    Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until golden brown on bottom-edges will be darker. (See photo.)

  7. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes; then, place in refrigerator or freezer to finish cooling.
  8. Make ganache-see list of ingredients above-by bringing cream to a very low simmer over med/low heat (should be hot/steaming, but not boiling); add chocolate pieces and continue to cook, beating with a wire whisk, until mixture is glossy/shiny.  Remove from heat; add vanilla and set aside.
  9. first beating of filling

    Go to the above list of filling ingredients: whip 1 c cream, using chilled bowl and beaters. Set aside in refrigerator.

  10. In another bowl, using the same beaters, blend the softened cream cheese, 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream, and vanilla. Mix in Monkfruit and peanut butter, beating for at least three minutes, until mixture is light and Monkfruit has had a chance to dissolve some-this will dissolve further, as pie sets. (See photo above.)
  11. Beat in one third of the whipped cream in this mixture.
  12. filling after final beating

    Finally fold in the remaining cream (see photo).

  13. Spread the ganache evenly on bottom of the cooled crust.
  14. Place filling on top of ganache. May use your fingertip to form decorative peaks in filling.
  15. Using a sharp knife, scrape optional, unsweetened chocolate over the top of the pie (see photo of finished product at top of recipe).
  16. Refrigerate for three hours before serving.
  17. Serve immediately, or may cut in tenths-this is rich-and freeze. When frozen, place pieces in a freezer bag, to have on hand as needed for company.
  18. This is legal and dynamite!

Sage Turkey Delight

sage turkey delight

Learn about the term essential oils, as applied popularly to medicine and traditionally to food; in the later it is used for the flavorful material in herbs and spices.  With the approach of Thanksgiving, consider this great recipe for leftover turkey or chicken, which employs the fresh herb sage; we will look at more closely below.  1

Essential Oil as Found in Food

Flavor is a composite quality, a combination of sensations occurring in the odor receptors in the upper reaches of our nose and the taste buds in our mouths.  Both sensations are chemical in nature: we are smelling odors and tasting tastes, when our receptors are triggered by specific chemicals in foods (in medicinal essential oils, these concentrated chemicals are either inhaled through the nostrils or applied to the skin).  2

Flavor Is Mostly Derived from Aroma

Most of what we experience as flavor is odor, or aroma (this can be seen in the  effect odor molecules have on us, when biting into a fresh apple, and from the sensations derived from indulging in a roast, hot from the oven).  3

Herbs and spices heighten flavor by adding their characteristic aroma molecules (an exception is pungent spices and herbs, such as pepper and chilies, which stimulate and irritate nerves in the mouth, rather than provide aroma).  These aroma molecules of herbs and spices are small, light, invisible, intangible, making them volatile, especially when heated-they evaporate from their source and fly through the air, which allows them to rise with our breath to the receptors in our nostrils.  4

Defensive Aroma Chemicals in Plants

In herbs and spices, these were actually defensive aroma chemicals in the plants themselves, which we have adopted as potent, intense sources of flavor.  God placed these chemicals in plants to make them resistant to attack by animals or microbes.  These defensive chemical weapons are stockpiled carefully in specialized oil-storage cells, in glands on the surface of leaves, or in channels that open up between cells, as they can have disruptive effects on the plants themselves-as well as on predators-and thus are kept from the internal workings of the plants.  For more on defensive chemicals in plants see Braised Cabbage.  5

When eaten as is, most herbs and spices are acrid, irritating, numbing, and actually toxic, such as a whole oregano leaf, a clove, peppercorn, or vanilla bean.  But through the art of cooking, man dilutes these, thus bringing much pleasure.  6

Term Essential Oil as Applied to Food

In food history, the traditional term essential oil reflects an important practical fact: the aroma chemicals that make up flavor are more similar to oils and fats than to water, making them more soluble in oil than water.  For this reason, cooks add the deep flavor  of herbs and spices to foods, by the infusing of them in oil, not water (two exceptions to this are: tea, a dried leaf, and coffee, a roasted seed).  We also sometimes infuse herbs in watery vinegar and in alcohols, but the acetic acid of both are small cousins of fat molecules; thus, vinegar and alcohol help to dissolve more aromatics than plain water could.  7

When cooking with an herb, it is important to add it to our food-cooked in fats-at the last minute to preserve the fullness of its flavor.

How Medicinal Essential Oils Are Made

Likewise, medicinal essential oils are aromatic chemicals extracted from plants and combined with the carrier oil.  There are eight removal methods (steam distillation, water distillation, water and steam distillation, cold-press extraction, CO2 extraction, maceration, enfleurage, and solvent extraction).  Some extractions methods are best suited for the particular plant types and parts.  8

These liquefied versions of a plant have obtained the active botanical constituents from that species, thus allowing its “life force” to reach the blood stream faster than eating the plant would.  9

These essential oils, compounds extracted from plants, are indeed the plant’s captured essence, or flavor and scent, as seen with food above.  Medicinal essential oils are concentrated plant extracts, and true ones must be obtained through non-chemical processes, such as distillation (via steam and/or water), or mechanical methods like cold-pressing, such as used for obtaining oils from citrus peels.  10

Flavor Components in Sage

Sage, as called for in this holiday receipt, has the following flavor notes, lending to its general sensory qualities as brought on by their contributing chemicals.  Some of the major chemicals found in sage are cineole, providing a fresh note, and pinene, lending a pine flavor quality.  Both of these chemicals are in the terpenes family, which as a family tends to be especially volatile and reactive, meaning these chemicals are often the first molecules to reach the nose.  They thus provide the initial impression of these lighter and more ethereal notes, and for this reason, they disappear quickly in cooking.  11

Cineole and camphor add a penetrating sensory quality, while the distinctive chemical thujone-found almost exclusively in sage-contributes much of its character.  All of these flavor notes pair ideally with poultry; thus, sage is the perfect herb for my recipe below.  12

Lesson Applied

It takes concentration and purposeful effort, to achieve our optimum health.  We must study all the options; then, make an educated decision how best to meet our individual needs with food, medicine, and life, all three.

God gave us doctors; it is wise to seek counsel from them, in both medicine and food.  Be led by the Spirit: go to one you trust and then ask lots of questions.  Follow through with personal research; then, prayerfully consider your choice, for ideally meeting your specific health needs-and we all have health issues, with which we find victory!

Let us be as wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove with ourselves, as we press in for this ideal concerning our bodies, minds, and hearts.

References:

  1. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 389.
  2. Ibid., p. 387.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid., p. 389.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. https://www.newdirectionsaromatics.com/blog/articles/how-essential-oils-are-made.html
  9. Ibid.
  10. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-are-essential-oils
  11. Harold McGee, On Food and History (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 392.
  12. Ibid.

finished product

Sage Turkey Delight  Yields: 4 servings.  Total prep time: 45 min.

16 oz frozen broccoli  (Trader Joe’s has organic for $2.29/ lb.)

1 lg yellow onion, cut in 1/8slices

3 1/2 tsp oil  (Avocado or coconut oil is important, as olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

4 lg carrots, about 2/3 lb, chopped in thin diagonal slices  (Organic at Trader’s costs $.79/ lb.)

10 oz pkg of sliced crimini mushrooms  (Trader’s has this for $2.49; though, any kind of mushrooms will do.)

sage plant from Trader Joe’s

4 tbsp ghee or butter  (If making homemade ghee, plan on 12 min to prep; see  recipe at Ukrainian Spinach with Noodles.)

3 c of leftover turkey, or chicken, in bite-size pieces

1 small herb plant of fresh sage, about 3/4 c whole leaves  (This organic plant is available at Trader Joe’s for $2.49; see photo.)

Salt and pepper to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.)

  1. clean, easy method of scraping carrots into grocery bag

    Take broccoli out of freezer, open bag, and set aside, to begin thawing for quicker cooking.

  2. To caramelize onion, slice it in half at root and then in even 1/8” slices.  Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a skillet, over medium heat, and when a small piece of onion begins to sizzle, add the rest.  Cook, stirring every several minutes, until a light color starts to form.  Then stir every minute, until onions are a dark brown and caramelized. May add a small amount more of oil toward end, if they look like they might burn.  Watch carefully, while proceeding to next step.
  3. carrots after cooking for 2 min

    Spray carrots with a vegetable spray (an inexpensive, effective spray that works well is a combination of 97% white distilled vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide).  Rinse thoroughly and set aside.

  4. In a large sauté pan, heat butter or ghee (for  ghee recipe see Ukrainian Spinach with Noodles.)  Add mushrooms and cook for several minutes, or only until slightly limp; remove to a bowl, carefully leaving juices in pan.  Take pan off heat when done.
  5. chopped sage

    Be sure to watch onions.  (May set a timer and keep hitting repeat, as a reminder.)

  6. For easy, clean prep, scrape carrots with a knife in a plastic grocery bag hung over sink nozzle (see photo at direction #1).  Cut carrots in thin, diagonal slices.
  7. Add remaining tbsp of oil to mushroom juices in pan and heat, until a small piece of carrot sizzles in pan.  Add rest of carrots, distributing juices; cook for about 2 minutes (see photo above).
  8. With a paring knife, cut large broccoli florettes in half; add to pan, stirring well, so oils are mixed in evenly.  Cook until desired tenderness, stirring occasionally.
  9. Meanwhile remove stems from sage and chop leaves into small pieces, set aside.  See photo above.
  10. When vegetables are finished, stir in poultry pieces and chopped sage.  Season with salt and pepper to taste; cook until heated thoroughly; when hot, adjust seasonings.  (See photo at top of recipe.)
  11. Serve it forth!

New American Biscuit, made with almond flour

almond flour biscuits

The benefits of almonds and almond flour are given here, along with a recipe for the new American biscuit-made with almond flour-to comply with multiple popular diets, currently present in America (gluten-free, keto, paleo, etc., and plain good eating).  This 20-minute biscuit is exceptionally light and moist, a great alternative treat.

The Origins of Almond

Almond, the seed of a plum-like stone fruit, or drupe, is the world’s largest tree-nut crop.  This nut is a close relative of the plum, peach, and cherry, with its stony shell.  California is now the largest producer of the cultivated almond, Prunus amygdalus, which originally came from western Asia.  There are also several dozen wild or minor species.  1

Facts about Almond Extract

As an aside, the nutty flavor of both almonds and its flour are not at all like the strong and distinctive flavor of almond extract, which is derived from bitter almonds; strong almond flavor is found only in wild or bitter almonds.  2

Our “pure” almond extract is made with aromatic benzaldehyde-from bitter almonds.  It, however, is without the cyanide that accompanies it in these almonds themselves.  On the other hand, “natural” extract usually contains benzaldehyde produced from cassia bark, while “imitation” almond extract contains benzaldehyde synthesized from pure chemicals.  None of these three extracts resemble, in flavor, the nutty sweet taste of the domesticated almond, or its flour.  3

Health Benefits of Almonds

Almonds are a power-packed food with their high content of antioxidant vitamin E and low levels of polyunsaturated fats, giving them a relatively long shelf life.  Their great, low-carb, sweet-tasting flour has an abundance of health benefits.  4

This nut and its flour are high in protein and fiber, rich in manganese, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus, as well as its above mentioned strength in vitamin E.  This last is a group of fat-soluble compounds that act as antioxidants in our bodies, thus preventing free radicals from doing damage, such as accelerating aging and increasing the risk of heart disease and cancer.  Lower rates of Alzheimer’s are also linked with vitamin E intake, in several studies.  5

One ounce (28 grams) of almond flour provides 35% of required daily intake of vitamin E, while the same amount provides 19% of the RDI of magnesium.  There is some evidence that the addition of magnesium in our diets results in improved blood sugar control, reduced insulin resistance, and lower blood pressure.  6

Magnesium is known to possibly help control blood sugar and improve insulin function.  Being low in carbs, yet high in healthy fats and fiber, baked goods made with almond flour also have a low glycemic index; thus, they release sugar into your blood slowly to provide a sustained source of energy.  For these two reasons, almond-flour-treats may be an answer to people struggling with type 2 diabetes and weight conditions.  7

There is some evidence that almond flour may help reduce the bad LDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure (studies along this line are inconsistent).  In this way, almonds may lower risks of heart disease.  8

This Biscuit May Aid Sleep

Finally, this nut may promote good sleep, because of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin present in them, as well as their high magnesium content, which also may improve sleep quality.  The magnesium purportedly reduces inflammation and the hormone cortisol, which is known to interrupt sleep.  Studies, however, are inconclusive; but some find almonds, on an empty stomach, before bed, are beneficial.  I like to eat one of these biscuits, several tablespoons of raw almond butter, and a glass of cold almond milk, before I retire.  9

How I Went from Obese to the Perfect Weight

It seems that most Americans are concerned about their weight and diet for one reason or another.  When I go into the market place, it seems most of the people I encounter are obese.  My heart breaks for them, as I once was caught in 226-pound body, as well.  Everything I did to lose weight-over several decades-failed.

I constantly resolved anew, to exercise for twenty minutes a day, three times a week; walking, however, brought so much pain to my heavy body that I couldn’t stick with my regime.  Today, my challenges have been reversed.  Now, I choose to lay down my beloved aerobic walking, in order to first prioritize my responsibilities, in any given day.  I walk as time allows, which takes great discipline for me, with my passion for this exercise.  Wow!  How things have changed.

Likewise, my 226-pound-body effortlessly and naturally melted away to a perfect 130-pound-frame, wearing a size four and six.  For me, this all came about when I finally let go and let God, as the saying goes.

It all started on October 2, 2002, when I suddenly had to stop a medication; its replacement came with the promise of a side effect of decreased appetite.  With great anticipation, I started what I thought was to be my miracle drug; three months later, however, during a doctor’s appointment, I discovered that I was six pounds heavier.

At that moment, I admitted total defeat, for there was no hope for me in the natural realm.  Crying out to God for help, I truly let go; I was inspired to tell the nurse that in the future I was going to close my eyes when she weighed me, and for her not to tell me what the numbers were.  We did this for several years, and my clothes-size slowly, but surely diminished.  Indeed it wasn’t me, but our Father who performed this miracle.

Today, the scales of life have changed.  Now with my active, vibrant life, I need to count my calories to insure I am eating enough to maintain my weight.  How pleasant is this problem.

We know that life can bring change, sometimes big, when we surrender our will; thus, we need to always be on our toes, expecting the best, which actually opens the door for the Omnipotent One to manifest good in our lives.

This biscuit promotes both health and pleasure; it is indeed good.  Enjoy its simple preparation, as given below.

References:

  1. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984. 2004), pp. 505.
  2. Ibid., 506.
  3. Ibid., 506.
  4. Ibid., 505.
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/almond-flour#section3
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-foods-to-help-you-sleep#section1

biscuits baked to a golden brown

Almond Flour Biscuits  Yields: 8 biscuits.  Total prep time: 20 min/  active prep time: 6 min/  baking time: 14 min.

Scant 1/4 c heavy whipping cream, soured with 8 drops of lemon juice from squeeze ball  (Organic cream is important for health; Trader Joe’s carries this for $3.29/pt.  Regular sour cream will also work, though not as healthy.)

1 c almond flour  (Costco has the best price on this-$12.99 for 3 lbs, or $4.33/lb.  It is also available in bulk at our local New Season’s for $9.99/lb.)

2 tsp baking powder  (With finger, press powder in measuring spoon, as you hold it over the bowl, to get rid of lumps.)

1/4 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.)

1 tsp konjac root powder, or similar ingredient  (Konjac root powder is available on-line; it promotes softness in baked goods.)

1 lg egg

  1. curdled heavy whipping cream

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Place cream in a medium (cereal) bowl and squirt about 8 short squirts of lemon juice from lemon ball over surface.  Let sit for 4-5 minutes; you will be able to see the curdled cream when you tip the bowl to the side (see above photo).
  3. In a med/lg bowl, stir all the dry ingredients together.

    wet dough 

  4. Lightly beat egg into bowl of curdled cream; then, add this liquid mixture into almond flour.  Stir until all moisture is incorporated.  Note: dough will be quite wet; see photo.
  5. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  Spoon dough for 8 biscuits on paper.  Bake for 14-15 minutes, or until light golden brown (see photo at top of recipe).  Remove from oven and cool on pan.  These will store well in the refrigerator for a number of days.

 

 

Great Keto Citrus Cookies

keto citrus cookies

These keto citrus cookies-my sister Maureen’s creation-are a treat, as is the following information on Swerve confectioner’s sugar, which is used in the frosting.  Here I compare it to Lakanto Monkfruit sweetener.

Lakanto Monkfruit Tastes Better Than Swerve

Personally I prefer the taste of Lakanto Monkfruit sweetner, with erythritol and monkfruit, to Swerve, a blend of erythritol and prebiotic oligosacchariedes; I notice that Swerve leaves an aftertaste, when consumed with coffee, a flavor-enhancer.

Comparing Monkfruit to Swerve

Both are natural sweeteners, containing nothing artificial including no preservatives; they are non-GMO, gluten-free, non-glycemic, and diabetic friendly.  They taste and measure like sugar.

These two sweeteners are part erythritol.  Lakanto Monkfruit has monkfruit added, which is derived from the fruit called monkfruit (for details see Healthy Date/Apricot Bars).  On the other hand, Swerve states its ingredients come from select fruits and starchy root vegetables.  In this case, they add oligosaccharides to the erythritol.

How Oligosaccharides In Swerve Are Derived 

These oligosaccharides are derived from adding enzymes to starchy root vegetables, thus breaking down the starch and producing this carbohydrate, whose molecules are made up of a relatively small number of monosaccharide units.  1

Common oligosaccharides include the simple, single sugars-monosaccharides-glucose, fructose, and galactose.  1,4 glycosidic bonds bind these together to create disaccharides, such as sucrose, lactose, and maltose.  All sugars-known as oligaosaccharides-are formed when two or more monosaccharides are joined together by O-glycosidic bonds.  2

Another term for sugar is saccharide, while the word oligosaccharide, though a broad term, is most commonly used to refer to a carbohydrate polymer whose molecules are composed of a relatively small number of these monosaccharide units-typically between 3-9 units.  3

Makeup of Swerve Quetionable

Swerve does not reveal what type of simple sugar, or monosaccharide, is used to make up its carbohydrate polymers, which are specifically referred to as oligosacchrides here.  They also state that they have introduced a small amount of natural citrus flavor, though we don’t know exactly what is meant by “natural flavor”, or more specifically how it is derived in this case.  4

Its oligosaccharides are prebiotic fibers, or types of dietary fiber that feed the friendly bacteria in your gut, which cannot be broken down by the human digestive tract; thus, they are considered calorie-free, passing intact through our digestive systems into our colons, where they support the growth of healthy bacteria.  Being calories that our bodies cannot assimilate, these oligosaccharides are considered to be calorie-free, not raising blood sugar or insulin levels; they, however, may cause digestive upsets, leading to gas, bloating, and diarrhea, which is especially true when used in high amounts.  5

Swerve Has A Broader Basis Of Culinary Use

In its favor, Swerve boasts that it browns and caramelizes just like sugar.  I, however, am not as sold on its flavor as much as that of Lakanto Monkfruit, but large amounts of this latter may cause dryness in baked goods.  Nevertheless, I love Monkfruit-over Swerve-added to my hot oats and chia seed parfaits, as well as in baking, when used moderately, with the addition of konjac root powder, or a similar product.

Swerve, however, makes confectioners sugar, a must for frostings, as found in the recipe below.  Note: it is easy to make your own confectioners sugar, by grinding Monkfruit in a blender-be sure to cover the machine with a towel, while blending.  Granulated Monkfruit, Swerve, and ground Monkfruit confectioners sugar, all measure exactly the same.

These Alternative Sugars Ideal For Keto Diet

My health condition recently called for a decrease in the amount of carbohydrates I was taking in.  Thus, I became interested in Dr. Colbert’s keto diet.  This greatly reduces carbs, while calling for a concentration of high-quality fats, to achieve keto-zone for effective weight loss (see https://drcolbert.com/).

My personal need, however, is to be sure I eat enough calories in a day, so as not to lose weight, while not consuming high amounts of carbs for those needed calories.  Henceforth, I follow the keto diet loosely, not needing to maintain keto-zone that his patients require for losing weight effectively.  I have only skimmed the surface of all Colbert’s teachings, receiving his recommendations for 70% of your daily caloric intake, to be derived from healthy fats (see Healthy Date/Apricot Bars).

I have learned to love my homemade ghee-see recipe at Vichy Carrots-in my hot cereal, and I lavish grass-fed Kerry butter on keto bisquits made with almond flour-my next entry.  Likewise, I fill a tablespoon-size impression in my homemade, sprouted three-bean dip, with organic olive oil, the king of all oils-a quick and easy way to consume my needed fat.  (See recipe for Sprouted Three Bean Dip.)  This last I eat with just eleven organic bean chips, as recommended for a serving, counting all my carbohydrates carefully.

Applying This Lesson To Life

I can have a moderate amount of carbs, just not the quantity I was previously eating, to maintain calories for my weight.  I have learned it is all about balance!

We notice that there is always a tension of some sort in watching our diets, as well as in maintaining other life experiences.  This characteristic in our existence demands that we be alert, so as not to be caught off-guard in matters of physical and mental health.

Our inward wisdom will naturally resolve these apparent problems, when we quiet ourselves and subject our instinct that reacts with feelings; thus, rather we are able to settle in calm!  We always ask God for help to access this inner voice.

In this way, we do not eat compulsively, tasting nothing, or of equal importance, we don’t eat at all, because of emotions.

All this can be done, when in restful faith, we seek composure in both eating and living.  We always achieve this symmetry, when we ask God for his needed help.

References:

  1. https://swervesweet.com/about
  2. https://teaching.ncl.ac.uk/bms/wiki/index.php/Oligosaccharide
  3. Ibid.
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/swerve-sweetener
  5. Ibid.

finished product

Keto Citrus Cookies  Yields: about 18 cookies.  Total prep time: 1 1/4 hr /  active prep time: 45 min/  baking time: 30 min .  Note: if desired, frosting recipe may be quadrupled, for the freezing of four parts, to facilitate quick prep of subsequent batches.  Cookies also freeze well!

 

 

Zest of 1 lg orange & 1 lemon, minus 1 tbsp saved for frosting  (Organic is important here for flavor and quality, as skin of citrus fruits readily absorb pesticides.)  Note: 2 of each fruit is required, if quadrupling recipe, to freeze for quick and easy batches in the future.

1/2 c unsalted butter, softened

3/4 c Lankanto Monkfruit alternative sweetener  (This is available most reasonably at Costco.)

1 lg egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 c almond flour  (Costco’s almond flour is much cheaper than any other available-$12.99 for a 3-lb bag.)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp konjac root powder, or a similar product of your choice  (This softens baked goods and is available on-line.)

1/2 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is essential for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.)

Frosting  May freeze any leftover frosting from single batch.  These are a staple in my home, and I go through them quickly; thus, I quadruple the frosting recipe and divide it into five separate containers, freezing four of them, for quick, subsequent batches.

2 tbsp butter, softened

2 oz cream cheese, softened

1 c Swerve alternative confectioners sugar  (To make your own confectioners sugar, grind the better-tasting Monkfruit in a blender-be sure to cover blender with a towel.  Note: Swerve, granulated Monkfruit, and ground Monkfruit all measure exactly the same.)

Juice of 1 lemon and 1 lg orange, to desired consistency

1 tbsp zest of lemon and orange (Use zest of one whole of each of these fruits, if quadrupling recipe.)

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

  1. grating fruit

    Be sure cream cheese and butter (for both cookies and frosting) are softened, before starting recipe.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Zest one lemon and one large orange.  Set aside, saving 1 tbsp zest separately, for frosting; see photo above.

    dough

    (Zest two of each fruit, using half of zest for cookies and half for frosting, if quadrupling frosting recipe, to freeze for easy prep of future batches.)

  4. If making frosting, juice all fruit together in a bowl; set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, mix butter and Monkfruit.  Beat in: egg, vanilla, and the zest of lemon and orange, minus 2 tsp for frosting.
  6. Stir together baking soda, konjac root, and salt into almond flour, using a separate dish-better yet, shake well in a quart-size sealed storage bag.  Mix almond flour mixture into butter mixture; do not over-beat.  See above photo.
  7. forming balls of dough

    Using a teaspoon, form 18 balls on two parchment-lined cookie sheets, several inches apart from each other; see photo.

  8. Using fingers, flatten each ball into a 1 1/2″ diameter.
  9. Bake pans separately in hot oven for 15-16 minutes, or until golden brown.  Do not over-bake, as these will cook more on pan while cooling; see bottom photo.  Meanwhile, make frosting.
  10. golden brown cookies

    Blend 2 oz room-temperature cream cheese and 2 tbsp softened butter; add 1 c alternative confectioner’s sugar; then, add juice to desired consistency, and finally add zest, vanilla, and salt.   May freeze any leftovers.  (If quadrupling the frosting recipe-to freeze for easy prep of subsequent batches-divide this large batch of frosting evenly in five small containers, freezing four of these for quick, future batches of cookies.)

  11. When cookies are done, be sure to cool on pan; then, place on wax paper to frost (see photo at top of recipe).
  12. Enjoy these great, “legal” cookies!

Chicken BBQ, an adaptation of a 1758 English Receipt

finished product

This outstanding BBQ can be made with chicken, as I propose here, or mutton (lamb), as the original 1758 recipe instructs; I discovered it in Esther B. Aresty’s The Delectable Past, copyrighted 1964.

The same book provided me with cold Beef Vinaigrette (see 2018/09/01), which I served a lot in my catered events during the 1980’s and 90’s. Both the beef and today’s adaptation-with whole chicken breasts-of her Mutton (or Lamb) Kebob’d, have brought excellence to my special summer menus.  They are mouthwatering beyond words!

In the early 1980’s, an Irish woman in Billings, MT gave me Aresty’s book.  At that time, I delved into its rich heritage with all vigor; I was hungry for historical facts about food, as I was being formed into a food historian.  Even now, I continue to discover new ways to create outstanding delicacies in these proven pages, as can be seen with this provision for BBQ.

Aresty found these directions for roasting a loin of lamb on a spit, in Sarah Phillips’ The Ladies Handmaid, which appeared in 1758.  Inspired by Phillips, she calls for cutting all the way down to the bone between the chops, being careful not to sever them (allowing two chops per person).  Then, season them well with ground thyme, crushed rosemary, salt, and pepper.  Next, one ties the loose loin together-Mrs. Phillips wrote “clap together”.  Finally, it is fastened to the barbecue spit to be roasted over a hot fire; all the time one bastes it with the outstanding sauce, as given in the recipe at the end of this entry.

I lit upon this “delectable”, when searching for something unique to take to a church picnic on Vancouver Lake, in Washington.  It wasn’t possible to roast a loin of lamb over our small portable grill, so I quickly substituted chicken breasts for the kebob’d (or tied) mutton loin; the end result pleased the crowd immensely.

The day was memorable.  After the abundant meal, we floated on a raft on Vancouver Lake, with peace surrounding us, as thick as cutting soft butter with a knife.  There were small children in our raft; their quiet pleasure brought delight to all.

It is written that we must become like children to enter into our ordained place in life.  How do we do this?  The Holy Spirit will direct each necessary step, if we will ask for help, believing, as we cry out.

The journey is one of great joy and abundance.  Nevertheless we can expect challenges in the process, but oh the exuberance, as we overcome all obstacles!  The victory is ours, for the taking.  We rise and walk in all newness of life with the innocence of a child, accepting fun and freedom along the way.

Our gracious Father longs to bless our taste buds, both in the spiritual and the natural; our job is to quiet down enough for this sense of taste to be perceived, so we can follow its lead.  It is promised that we will be directed into all life, if we trust God’s inward guide.

Let this BBQ receipt be the beginning of an awakening of our gustatory and spiritual awareness.  Enjoy its many flavor dimensions.

plate of chicken

Chicken BBQ  Yields:4-5 servings.  Total cooking time: 45 min.  Note: this was inspired by an adaptation of a 1758 recipe, which I found in Esther B. Aresty’s The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1964), pp. 118, 119.

 

 

 

 

2 1/2 lb boneless chicken breasts  (Natural chicken breasts are best; Trader Joe’s has a good buy on these.)

Ground thyme

Crushed dried rosemary leaves

Salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95/ 5 lbs.)

Pepper, freshly ground

Basting Sauce  (May be done ahead.)

2 tbsp melted butter

2 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best, as olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1/4 c vinegar  (Be creative here-I used an elderberry vinegar.)

2 tbsp catsup  (Trader’s has an organic catsup for $1.99.)

  1. seasoning chicken for grilling

    Place chicken in warm water to thaw, or better yet, thaw the 2 1/2 lb bag on a deep plate in the refrigerator, at least 24 hours before cooking.

  2. In a small saucepan, combine all basting sauce ingredients, heat to combine, and set aside.  (May be done ahead and stored at room temperature.)
  3. Before placing on barbecue, season one side of the breasts well with ground thyme, crushed rosemary, salt, and pepper.  Place seasoned side down on hot grill; then season the top side likewise.  Let cook for 10 minutes to seal seasoning on poultry, turn over to seal seasoning on other side.  See above photo.
  4. basting chicken

    Brush partially cooked upside of breast with basting sauce; cook about 10 minutes; then, turn over, brushing other side with basting sauce.  See photo.

  5. Continue to cook-turning and basting about every 10 minutes-until chicken is fully cooked (see top photo.)
  6. Serve with anticipation!

Vichy Carrots

Vichy carrots

Learn the intriguing facts surrounding the benefits of distilled water, over all other waters, with this famous recipe for Vichy carrots; its history takes us back to Vichy, France (for more on Vichy, see last week’s entry Vichysoisse).

This town, which was in collaboration with the Nazis during WWII, is highly regarded for its healing waters, rich in minerals and bi-carbonate, which are employed in this famous receipt.  Here, however, I make these carrots with health-promoting distilled water; to learn more about its powerful properties, read on.

Some say that up to four centuries ago, patrons of this spa town, were partaking in the then popular vegetable carrots, for they were considered part of the over-all cure.  Therefore this recipe evolved, incorporating the slightly carbonated Vichy waters, for it was held that the carbonation, as well as the carrots, helped with digestion; much like today, we remedy an upset stomach with soda crackers-saltines made with baking soda (bi-carbonate).  1

I discovered Vichy carrots in my copy of Joy of Cooking, printed in 1964; this cook book played a part in the beginning of my journey with food, which started in my junior year of college in the early 1970’s.  2

This recipe’s vitality is enhanced, by the optional incorporating of Monkfruit sweetener in place of sugar (for details see Date/Apricot Bars, 2019/06/12) and powerful ghee instead of butter (see Balsamic Eggs, 2019/05/07).  A pinch of baking soda is added to my choice of distilled water, to replace the Vichy mineral water.

Recently I got a H20 Lab water distiller, for I am convinced that distilled water is the answer to many health problems.  Dr. Allen E. Bank, in The Choice is Clear, illuminates how this one vital element can bring us vibrant health or rob us of it.  There are nine types of water: hard water, soft water, raw water, boiled water, rain water, snow water, filtered water, de-ionized water, and distilled water.  I am convinced that only distilled water is good for our bodies.  3

Bank describes how the possible cause of nearly all our aging diseases lies in inorganic minerals, which are in the air and ground; all water, except for distilled, contains these inorganic minerals (including Vichy water).  There are 106 different chemicals and minerals found in water; the process of purifying does not remove these, just distilling does.  4

Our bodies can only utilize organic minerals, which must come from plants, for plants convert the inorganic minerals carried to them by water, into their organic counterparts.  But through our water, we take in these inorganic minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, silicon), and we are not able to assimilate these nutrients efficiently-only through food can we receive these.  Thus, nature stores them in our joints as arthritis, our intestinal walls as constipation, our kidneys and livers as stones, and they harden the arteries of our hearts.  5

Distilled water not only prevents disease from coming to us, but it reverses the damage we have accumulated from the past; it literally heals us!  Water naturally attracts inorganic minerals: rain collects them from the air, well water is heavy in minerals found in the ground, and so on.  Water, however, does not attract the organic minerals we take in with our food.

The miracle of distilling is that it eliminates all minerals and chemicals, leaving pure water; in turn, when this enters our bodies, it now draws-picks up-mineral deposits accumulated in the arteries, joints, etc. and begins to carry them out.  Distilled water literally reverses the previous damage done to us; therefore, I am much convinced about the importance of distilled water for our over-all health.  6

Enjoy this extremely easy recipe, in which you may use distilled water, with a pinch of baking soda, to mimic Vichy water.

References:

  1. https://www.cooksinfo.com/vichy-carrots and https://urbnspice.com/my-recipes/urbnspice-series/inspiration-of-urbnspice-series/vichy-carrots/
  2. Irma S Rombauer & Marion Rombauer Becker, The Joy of Cooking (New York: A Signet Special, New American Library, 1931, 1936, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1962, 1963, 1964), p, 270.
  3. Dr. Allen E. Banks, The Choice is Clear (Austin, Texas: Acres USA, 1971, 1975, 1989), p. 12.
  4. Ibid., pp. 13, 31.
  5. Ibid., pp. 13, 14.
  6. Ibid., pp. 14, 15.

finished product

Vichy Carrots  Yields: 8 servings.  Prep time: 30 min (or 45 min if making optional ghee).  This is adapted from a recipe in my copy of Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, which was printed in 1964.

2 lb carrots, scraped, and thinly sliced diagonally  (Trader Joe’s has a 2 lb bag of organic, multi-colored carrots for $1.99.)

4 tbsp ghee, or butter  (For the simple ghee recipe see steps 1-5.)

2 tsp Monkfruit, cane sugar, or coconut sugar  (Lakanto  Monkfruit Sweetener is available at Costco.)

1 tsp salt, or to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95/lb.)

1/2 c water, with 2 pinches of baking soda (bicarbonate)

Chopped curly parsley for optional garnish

  1. first foam

    Proceed to step 6, if using butter instead of ghee.  To prepare health-giving ghee, which takes about 15 minutes, use only a heavy-bottomed saucepan.  In it, melt 8 oz unsalted butter-preferably Irish, grass-fed, Kerry butter from Costco-over medium heat, shaking pan to speed up melting.  Note: there is less wastage using only half a pound of butter, compared to doubling recipe with a pound.

  2. When melted, cook until an even layer of white whey proteins forms on top (see photo above).
  3. first foam breaking

    Continue cooking until milk solids break apart, and foam subsides, temperature will be about 190 degrees (a thermometer isn’t required).  At this stage you have clarified butter.  Note: if foam is starting to brown deeply and quickly, your pan is not heavy enough to make ghee; thus, remove from heat and immediately strain this clarified butter in a coffee-filter-lined strainer.  See photo.

  4. second foam risen, ghee finished

    To proceed with ghee, however, cook butterfat until a second foam rises, and it is golden in color.  This will take 2-3 more minutes, and temperature will reach 250 degrees.  Watch carefully as dry casein particles, settled on bottom of pan, will brown quickly.  See photo.

  5. Immediately, gently strain butterfat through a coffee filter, into a heat-proof dish.  Cool and transfer into an airtight container to keep out moisture.  This lasts for many weeks, at room temperature, and for up to six months, when stored in the refrigerator.
  6. scraping carrots in bag hung over nozzle of sink

    Wash and scrape carrots with a sharp knife; this preserves the vitamins just below the skin.  For cleanliness, scrape into a plastic garbage bag, which is hung over nozzle in kitchen sink; change bag as needed.  Place scraped carrots in another plastic bag.  See photo.

  7. Cut carrots in thin slices, at a diagonal; set aside.
  8. In a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan, place 4 tbsp of ghee, or butter, Monkfruit, or sugar, salt, and water, to which you’ve added two pinches of baking soda (bicarbonate).  Melt over medium heat; add carrots, coating them well; then, cover closely and cook until barely tender, stirring occasionally.  Check for water periodically, adding a small amount more, if your pan isn’t heavy-bottom, and it starts to become dry.
  9. When carrots are desired tenderness, uncover pan and glaze carrots in remaining butter sauce, until all the water is evaporated, stirring frequently (see photo at top of recipe).
  10. Garnish with optional chopped curly parsley; serve hot.

Beef Vinaigrette

beef vinaigrette on aspic

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes; I look forward to summers when I can indulge in it, for it is a cold dish.  I discovered this treat during my early catering days in Esther B. Aresty’s The Delectable Past, in which she shares the lost joys of the table gathered from her extensive collection of rare old cook books.  1

Aresty updates this delightful, historical receipt for her 1970’s kitchen, to which I have added my inspired touches.  She found this profound dish in Sarah Phillips’ The Ladies Handmaid, 1758, noting that it had limited circulation, and is unknown today to most bibliographers,

Phillips, this early English author, displays her magnetic personality in her recipe book.  In it she encourages her readers that it needs very few arguments to persuade people to prefer a good dinner to a bad one.  Her energetic approach to cooking is best revealed in her remarks on fish preparation: “Rip open the belly. Gut it. Strip it and hack it with a knife.”  2

This inspired, eighteenth century beef recipe is unparalleled, for it graces the best of our tables still today, pleasing without exception during the hot months!

We can learn much about the history of cook books from this receipt, by placing the book of its origin in proper historical perspective, demonstrating how the era it was from brought fine foods to the common man.

Prior to its time, cook books were prevailingly penned only by men in Europe.  Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)-known as Dr. Johnson-was an English lexicographer, critic, author, and conversationalist; he declared mid-century that women could spin very well, but they could not write a good book of cookery.  He, however, did not stop the tidal wave of female authors that were to overtake the writing of books on cooking in England.  This phenomenon actually began as early as 1714, with the advent of Mary Kettlby’s instructions for housewives-as well as cook maids at country inns-in A Collection of Above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery.  The momentum for feminine authorship merely grew over the years.  3

Cook books and Bibles share the distinction of being the earliest books printed.  Platina, a noted humanist and Vatican librarian, published the first cook book, De Honesta Voluptate, in 1475, just twenty years after the onset of printing with the Gutenberg Bible.  Germany, France, Spain, and England published cookery books shortly thereafter (prior to this, recipe collections were only handwritten).  These printed works could best be labeled “for a prince’s household”, though none were comparable to Platina’s De Honesta Volupate in magnitude, exemplifying the revival of the art of cooking during the Renaissance.  4

A long silence followed the first printing of an English cook book, The Boke of Cookery, 1500.  Change came when this silence was broken at the end of that century: detailed directions for elaborate food preparations were now addressed to the wives supervising better-class homes, rather than to chefs for noblemen, as was the previous precedent; all these books, however, were written by males during this Elizabethan period.  5

But a still greater change came later in the eighteenth century, when English women totally invaded what had previously been a man’s realm: British cook books were now being written by women, as well as being intended for feminine readership.  Prior to this, particularities concerning culinary preparation predominantly belonged to men in Europe: recipes were recorded by male chefs, who prepared these delicacies for nobility.

Writing for the chefs of noblemen in his book Le Cuisinier Francois, 1651, the Frenchman Francois Pierre de La Varenne was the first to publish what was to become a worldwide movement away from heavy medieval cuisine, with its influx of dense spices and almond pastes.  Here he emphasized the subtle accents of mushrooms and truffles, simple sauces made with pan drippings, and the use of butter instead of oil in pastries.  6

Shortly thereafter, there was a further shift found in the culinary sphere in seventeenth century France, with the beginning hints in cook books of fine foods not being just for kings, queens, and noblemen.  Then in the eighteenth century, Manin first and then Menon (the relatively unknown Manet and Monet of French cuisine) promoted what was to become a culinary outreach to the bourgeoisie in their writings.  7

Nevertheless, it was the British female authors who played the predominant part in introducing the greater populace to fine cuisine.  Our delightful beef recipe was created at the height of this male-to-female transformation that took place in culinary England in the 1700s.

Enjoy its many dimensions of flavor, which are produced simply.

References:

  1. Esther B. Aresty, The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964).
  2. Ibid., pp. 118, 119.
  3. Ibid., pp. 109, 110.
  4. Ibid., pp. 27, 28, 32
  5. Ibid., pp. 32, 43, 44.
  6. Ibid., pp. 60, 61.
  7. Ibid., pp. 94-98.
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_cuisine
  9. https://www.ecpi.edu/blog/a-brief-history-of-french-cuisine

beef vinaigrette

Beef Vinaigrette  Yields: 10 servings.  Total prep time: 7 hr, which includes 3 1/2 hr for chilling/  active prep time: 30 min/  cooking time: 3 hr.  Note: may make a day or two ahead.

4 lb beef brisket

1/2 c dry white wine

1 bay leaf

1 small yellow onion, diced

1/4 tsp whole allspice

1/2 tsp dried tarragon (or 1 tbsp fresh)

3 sprigs of parsley

capers for garnish

Aspic

1 3/4 c hot broth from meat

1/4 c cold water

1 individual envelope of unflavored gelatin

  1. prepped meat

    Trim excess fat off brisket; place in a heavy stewing pot, with a tight lid.  Add enough water to come up 1/2” in the pot; then, stir in all other ingredients, except capers and those for aspic (see photo).

  2. Bring to a boil over med/high heat.  Reduce heat to med/low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
  3. At the end of this time, turn meat over, and cook for another 1 1/2 hours; check liquid periodically, adding more water only if needed.  (See photo below of finished product.)
  4. finished brisket

    Remove brisket and place on a plate in refrigerator.  Strain remaining broth.  Measure 1 3/4 c, adding water to make full amount as needed, or if liquid is more than 1 3/4 c, boil it to reduce to given quantity.  Bring the 1 3/4 c broth to a light boil in a small pot; then, remove from heat.

  5. Meanwhile, place 1/4 c cold water in a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin on top, and stir with a spoon.  Dissolve this in hot broth, pour into an 8” x 8” pan, and refrigerate.
  6. After chilling meat for at least 3 hours, cut in slices, keeping them in order to retain the shape of the brisket; set aside.
  7. scraping fat off aspic

    Take pan of solidified aspic out of refrigerator, and scrape fat off top with a table knife (see photo).  Cut in 1″ cubes.

  8. Place aspic cubes on a platter covered with greens; arrange sliced beef brisket on top of aspic; garnish with capers (see initial photo).

Quick Chicken Soup

quick chicken soup

Soup-cooking weather is drawing to a close here in Northwest America, but it is still prevalent in other parts of the world that are reached by my writings.  Here is a quick, delicious receipt, which includes broccoli or asparagus (see my last entry to access this spring vegetable, sautéed with leftover, browned milk solids from ghee).

Much romance surrounds chicken soup; this is often one of our favorites from “mom’s best”-which gently nudged us out of our sick beds.  My earliest recollection of this soup, however, was that of the Campbell’s variety during the 1950’s.

My recipe boasts of lots of garlic, which comes with an interesting history all its own.  According to Sarah Lohman in Eight Flavors, it wasn’t the heavy Italian immigration at the turn of the 20th century that gave our country its love for this plant; rather, its colorful history dates further back to the international influence of the French chef Marie Antoine Careme.  He started his impressive career as a kitchen boy, at the age of eight, shortly after being abandoned by his parents, during the early political upheavals of the French Revolution, in 1792. 1

This man changed Western cuisine.  He replaced the then heavy use of imported spices, employed in the food preparation of the upper class since medieval times, with an introduction of fresh herbs and flavorful plants-such as onions and garlic-which had hitherto solely been found in the poor man’s diet; only local herbs and garlic, however, were used by the lower class, where Carame went afar to gather various ingredients for his extravagant repasts.  Strong emphasis on onions, thyme, bay, basil, and garlic can be seen in Careme’s recipes.  His feasts-elaborate by our means-held a novel focus on freshness, flavor, and simplicity (compared to that of his predecessors).  He is remembered, along with La Varenne, as the founder of haute cuisine. 2

Careme has greatly influenced Western cooking; nevertheless, his impact on our country, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, was only brief.  Here our newly acquired taste for garlic can be seen in Mary Randolph’s Beef-a-la-Mode, found in The Virginia Housewife (1824), which called for two heads of it for a single pot roast. 3  Prior to that, garlic was eschewed on this continent, as represented in Amelia Simmon’s American Cookery, 1796, for she wrote: “Garliks, tho’ ufed by the French, are better adapted to the ufes of medicine than cookery”. 4  Just a generation after Randolph’s garlicky 1824 receipt, the use of this allium became minimal once again, as seen in numerous American cook books of that period. 5

At the turn of the 20th century, massive Italian immigration came to our soil, with Italian Americans representing 10 percent of the US population by 1920.  Neither their culture or food ways were easily assimilated back then; thus, their heavy use of garlic was disdained by main line America, due in part to our earlier aversion to it. 6

Lohman attributes the beginning of the reversal, of our revulsion to this plant, to the heavy influx of American artists living around Paris, following the World War I; nearly thirty million of these sojourners were there during the 1920’s and 30’s, including M.F.K. Fisher and Earnest Hemingway; this artistic population initiated the idolization of garlic in print, because of their exposure to the popular garlic-laden cooking of Provence, where fresh and simple techniques were the direct result of Careme’ influence a hundred years prior. 7

In 1945, the future American legend James Beard-renown cook, television personality, and author-was stationed in Provence; here his culinary techniques were formed and, with them, his passion for garlic.  Thus by his works, this flavorful plant was pushed even further forward in its comeback in the USA.  Note: when Beard was serving in France, we were consuming 4.5 million pounds of it a year; this brought on by the artists.  By 1956, 36 million pounds were being consumed annually, due in large part to Beard picking up the torch lit by Careme.  (Presently the average American consumes about 2 pounds of garlic in a twelve month period.) 8

Several decades hence in 1971, Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkley, where she brought even more life to what Careme and Beard had started, with her founding of the farm-to-table movement; here she emphasizes locally produced ingredients in her famous French/Italian cuisine, prepared with the simple, fresh, garlic-laden Provencal cooking techniques. 9

Today, unlike the turn of the 20th century, there is a mainstream acceptance of Italian American food with all its original heavy use of this plant; this phenomenon can be clearly seen in some of America’s highest-grossing food chains: the Olive Garden and Domino’s Pizza.  There is even a rise in garlic-themed festivals throughout our country, which tend to promote Italian American inspired classics, such as fettuccine Alfredo (a purely American dish unknown in Italy.)  Nevertheless, our country’s love for garlic doesn’t come from Italy, but rather from the revival of French cuisine and the origins of the farm-to-table movement, established on the innovations of Careme. 10

This pungent allium strongly impacts my soup; enjoy its many dimensions.

References:

  1. Sarah Lohman, Eight Flavors (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), p. 155.
  2. Ibid., pp. 149-179;  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haute_cuisine   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie-Antoine_Car%C3%AAme  
  3. Sarah Lohman, Eight Flavors (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), pp.159.
  4. Amelia Simmons, American Cookery, 1796, (reprinted, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1965), p. 22.
  5. Sarah Lohman, Eight Flavors (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), pp. 159-160.
  6. Ibid., pp. 160-163.
  7. Ibid., pp.163-164.
  8. Ibid., pp. 153, 166.
  9. Ibid., pp. 166-169.
  10. Ibid., pp. 150,170, 171.

finished product

Quick Chicken Soup  Yields: 2 1/2 quarts.  Total prep time: 1 1/3 hr/  active prep time: 40 min/  cooking time: 40 min.

1 lb chicken tenderloins  (May substitute breasts or thighs.)

1 tbsp oil  (Avocado or coconut oil is best, as olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1 lg onion, chopped

3 lg carrots, cut in small cubes

1 head of cauliflower, divided into florettes

1 1b asparagus, cut in bite-size pieces  (May use frozen broccoli instead.)

1-liter plus 15-oz can of chicken broth  (Bone broth is ideal; see Tortellini Soup, 2016/10/10, for easy instructions.)

6 extra lg cloves garlic, minced  (May use 3 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s for easy prep.)

1 tbsp Herbes de Provence  (Trader’s has a great buy on these.)

1 c rice  (May substitute quinoa, which is diabetic friendly.)

1 tsp freshly ground pepper, or to taste

2 tsp salt, or to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive Himalayan salt is available in bulk at our local Winco.)

2 tsp Better Than Bouillon (chicken flavor), or to taste

  1. sweating onions

    Place chicken in a medium saucepan, cover barely with warm water to begin thawing process; if using frozen broccoli, set out to thaw.

  2. Heat oil in a saute pan, add chopped onions, and sweat-cook until translucent-as shown in photo.  Stir occasionally.  Set aside.
  3. Spray vegetables with a safe, effective, inexpensive vegetable spray (combine 97 % distilled white vinegar with 3% hydrogen peroxide); let sit for 3 minutes; rinse thoroughly.
  4. Bring chicken to a boil over medium heat, cook for 10 minutes, or until pink is nearly gone.  Remove tenderloins from cooking water, set both chicken and liquid aside to cool.
  5. Place 1 1/2-liters broth and 1 1/2 cups of water in a stock pot; cover and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  6. dividing cauliflower into florettes

    Chop carrots in small cubes; cut asparagus in bite-size pieces, by first removing tough ends.  Divide cauliflower into small florettes, by cutting small sections away from head; pare excess stem off these portions; then divide each of these sections into small florettes with the tip of a knife (see photo).

  7. Place vegetables and cooked onions in broth.
  8. Add to stock pot: garlic, Herbes de Provence, rice, pepper, and salt (only 2 tsp presently, as the Better Than Bouillon in step 8 will also add saltiness).  Cover and bring to a second boil over med/high heat; then, uncover, lower heat, and simmer for 35 minutes, or until rice is soft.
  9. When rice is finished cooking, cut chicken into bite-size pieces; add both poultry and its cooking liquid to soup.  Mix in Better Then Bouillon, and adjust seasonings to taste.
  10. Serve this light, healthy soup with pride; may freeze leftovers for unexpected company, or for a sick day.